Interview with Ben Fordham, 2GB

Transcript
14 Oct 2020
Prime Minister
E&OE

BEN FORDHAM: Scott Morrison, good morning to you, PM.

PRIME MINISTER: Good morning Ben, from Rockhampton.

FORDHAM: Thank you very much for joining us. I reckon the mob has spoken here. Everywhere I've gone in the last 24 hours, people are saying there's no way in the world we can afford to lose our Premier in New South Wales. 

PRIME MINISTER: Well, they're right about that. But it, doesn't need the mob to remind me of that. I mean, I've known Gladys for a long time, and I can I can speak for her integrity. And I thought this week she showed a lot of humility, to be honest. That would have been incredibly tough to admit to some personal decisions that obviously she regrets. And she's been very upfront with people, and I think very vulnerable with people about it. But in that vulnerability, there's been great strength. And, you know, her integrity is not in question. I don't believe at all, because I know her form and I know her character and I think people in New South Wales do also. But there's the other bigger question beyond that, I think, which, and your listeners and others are saying Ben, and that is we're in the middle of a coronavirus pandemic. New South Wales, I think, has led the way, in the way through this. Yeah they've had their challenges like everybody else, but they've got through them, they've learnt from them, they've become stronger. And Gladys has spearheaded that. Right now is when New South Wales needs Gladys Berejiklian more than ever. 

FORDHAM: I wonder whether that's why so many people are coming forward. John says through this nightmare, a positive for Gladys is the tremendous support and high regard that she's got in the community, if not for this situation, she might have been unaware. And this one from Phillip, if you were backing the lead horse in the Everest, why would you replace the jockey mid race? 

PRIME MINISTER: Well, I think that's right. I mean, people have all made personal decisions, I'm sure they regret, that’s human. Gladys Berejiklian has done a great job, but she's human like the rest of us and and the way that she's I think owned that, she hasn't sought to duck away from it in the statements that have been made as a result of this. She's owned it. She’s stepped up and she’s got on with the job. That’s, I mean, I know what Gladys would be doing today. She would just be working through her agenda of the things she has to decide, working with the ministers, looking at what the case numbers have been overnight and how they're going to deal with that and how they're going to manage restrictions and get the economy going. That's where Gladys will be focused. She's dedicated her life to this job and she's a pleasure to work with. 

FORDHAM: She's kind of put her personal life in the backseat for a long time, hasn't she? And she just focuses on looking after the state of New South Wales, making sure that we're ahead of the game. And I've seen her at those briefings she does on Coronavirus. There's no kind of notes. There's no autocue, she's got it all in her head. She knows exactly what she's doing. She wants to make sure we keep people alive and we stay out of lockdown. 

PRIME MINISTER: That's absolutely right. And you're right. I mean, Gladys has dedicated her life to public service. And, you know, not everybody is as fortunate as others in these in these things, in their personal lives and how their relationships go. I mean, Ben I'm blessed as you couldn't imagine. I've been very fortunate in that area but I put that down to Jenny. But, you know, these are decisions that they are hard I could imagine how hard that would have been for Gladys, she’s a very private person. And to have had to sit there and have that all dragged out in public in that way, it just would have been so tough. And I know many of your listeners would totally understand that and respect the dignity that she tried to bring to what was an otherwise just a terribly difficult day for her.

FORDHAM: We're speaking to Prime Minister Scott Morrison joining us from Rockhampton. I wonder, PM, whether you'd reflect on some tough times that you've had, earlier this year you had a really tough time when the bushfires were on and there was criticism over a trip that you've taken with your family. And obviously you hadn't had a holiday in a long, long time with your family and you've made a promise to your daughters. But one issue like that, one controversy does not define us, does it? 

PRIME MINISTER: Well, it doesn't, and like through all of these experiences, you learn. And that's the other thing about Gladys. I mean, if she makes a mistake, I've never seen her make it twice. She, and that's, I think all leaders, good leaders have to do that. I mean, leaders are human. They come under all sorts of pressure. There are lots of things going on behind the scenes in their own lives and so on. And that's not to make any excuse or anything like that. I'm not Ben. It's just it's just a reality. But the key is whatever happens each and every day, you learn from your successes and you learn from your mistakes and that's that's Gladys's form. And I think that's why people in New South Wales will get that. And they'll also understand that as you say, they've got they've got a great jockey, as you say. And I'd say arguably the one who has led us, out of all the states, best in getting through this. I mean, there's been some other great performances by Premiers in other places. But I got to tell you, I mean Gladys is the one I think that showed the right mettle.

FORDHAM: Well, that the gold standard, as you described it. And if I can put it in business terms, can you imagine going into a board room and saying, hey, listen, I know that we're absolutely braining it at the moment, but I'm thinking of changing the CEO? Give me a break.

PRIME MINISTER: Yeah well it would be a bit of a numpty of a decision I would have thought. But you know Gladys will press on. She'll press through. And I think Dom Perottet as well, showed great strength in being a deputy to his leader. I mean, I have that both with Josh Frydenberg as my deputy but also Michael McCormack as my Deputy Prime Minister. You know, teams, teams run governments. And I applaud Dom for the way that he has stood by Gladys as well. I think that shows the strength at the top. 

FORDHAM: Well, I appreciate you coming on and lending your voice again this morning to Gladys. Can I just ask you about Anthony Albanese? He is opposed to your stage three tax cuts. He says it's very hard to argue for high end tax cuts in the current climate. 

PRIME MINISTER: Well, Labor never gets it on tax. We had an election and we put this entire tax plan that would see, you know, people earning $50,000 dollars a year not paying 32.5 cents but paying 30 cents in the dollar. Importantly, every extra cent they earned every dollar they earned, they'd pay less tax. We took that to an election, the Australian people supported us. We made it law. It's law now. He would have to repeal it. But, you know, you think about that, every time you hear them want to spend more. You know, they want to tax you more. He wants to tax you more now. And he’s had 18 months to get rid of the retirees tax. If you haven't worked out after 18 months since the last election that the retirees tax was a terrible idea, then you're never going to. And you can never believe him if he says he's ever going to get rid of it. 

FORDHAM: I know that you're selling the Budget around Rockhampton at the moment. Look, you're always looking for new campaign ideas. I want to play you something from Donald Trump, obviously he's recovering from Coronavirus, but he's come up with a with a new strategy at one of his rallies, and it involves kissing members of the public. Here we go. 

DONALD TRUMP: I went through it. Now they say I'm immune. I can feel, I feel so powerful. I’ll walk into that audience, I’ll walk in there I’ll kiss everyone in that audience. I’ll kiss the guys and the beautiful women and everybody, I’ll just give you a big fat kiss.

FORDHAM: He wants to give everyone a big fat kiss. 

PRIME MINISTER: There’s nothing like Donald, that's for sure. But the Australian public are safe from my lips.

FORDHAM: Thank God for that. Thank you very much for your time. 

PRIME MINISTER: Good on you Ben, cheers.